Leinster have youthful look for pre-season opener

Matt O’Connor names a number of Academy players for trip to Northampton

Leinster coach Matt O'Connor has named a youthful selection for the opening game of the pre-season away to Northampton Saints at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday (2.30pm).

O'Connor leans heavily on Academy players, with 19-year-old Billy Dardis named at fullback, while Jordan Coghlan returns from an injury ravaged season last time around to start at inside centre alongside Brendan Macken.

Darragh Fanning and Sam Coghlan-Murray are named on the wings, with the experienced partnership of skipper Jimmy Gopperth and Isaac Boss combining at halfback.

Three Academy players are named in the pack, with hooker Bryan Byrne packing down between Michael Bent and Tadhg Furlong, while Josh Van Der Flier and Dan Leavy will fill the flanker berths. Dominic Ryan will start at No 8, with Ben Marshall and Tom Denton in the secondrow.


O’Connor has named 13 players on the bench for game, including new prop Sean McCarthy.

Connacht also continue their preparation in London, with a game against Wasps at High Wycombe on Saturday (2.30pm).

Coach Pat Lam also brings an extended squad of 28 for the game, with secondrow Mick Kearney captaining the side in the absence of John Muldoon because of a tight hamstring.

Former Dublin University player Niyi Adeolokun has earned a start on the right wing after scoring Connacht's try in the game against Clermont Auvergne.

LEINSTER (v Northampton Saints): Billy Dardis; Darragh Fanning, Brendan Macken, Jordan Coghlan, Sam Coghlan-Murray; Jimmy Gopperth (Capt), Isaac Boss; Michael Bent, Bryan Byrne, Tadhg Furlong; Ben Marshall, Tom Denton; Josh Van Der Flier, Dan Leavy, Dominic Ryan

Replacements: Tyrone Moran, Sean McCarthy, Ed Byrne, Gavin Thornbury, Jonathan Slattery, Luke McGrath, Cathal Marsh, Adam Byrne, Nick McCarthy, Stevie Crosbie, Rory O'Loughlin, Mick McGrath, Cian Kelleher.

CONNACHT (v Wasps): Tiernan O'Halloran; Niyi Adeolokun*, Darragh Leader, Dave McSharry, Danie Poolman; Jack Carty, Ian Porter*; Denis Buckley, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham; Quinn Roux*, Mick Kearney (capt); Eoin McKeon, Willie Faloon, George Naoupu.

Replacements: Sean Henry, JP Cooney, Rodney Ah You, Michael Swift, Danny Qualter, Caolin Blade, Craig Ronaldson, Fionn Carr, Eoghan Masterson, Shane O'Leary*, Conor Finn*, Rory Parata, Shane Layden.

*uncapped for Connacht